The LPYL in context: changing minds about school libraries in South Africa
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It is an honour to write a foreword for the Bibliotek I Samehälle's book on the Library Practice for Young Learners project (LPYL) - and also a challenge. The "honour" is due to the significance of the LPYL project, which is a project rooted in our past and present realities but which reaches out to future possibilities. I believe that it thus has a real chance of "making a difference" to South African education. The vision of the original partners, the Library & information Workers Organisation (LIWO), BIS and the Education Policy Unit (Natal), deserves gratitude and respect. They realised the importance of school libraries as a force for educational transformation - an area of action often neglected by the mainstream library profession. They then recognised that the South African landscape called for innovative models of school libraries. It is important perhaps to acknowledge upfront the links between the LPYL project and the national Department of Education's school library policy-writing process. Jenni Karlsson of the EPU (Natal) was largely responsible for the drafting of the National Policy Framework for School Library Standards (Department of Education, 1998) and she is a leading partner in the LPYL. From the beginning the intention of the LPYL project was to pilot certain of the models described in the policy document (a document which has apparently since been shelved by Government). Whatever the underlying intention, the result was an elegantly-designed project that provides us so far with at least three useful case studies for the future (Naiker & Mbokazi, 2002).